The Misfits by James Howe

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Everything started back when Addie refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance; she was adamant about the fact that there wasn’t “liberty and justice for all” and, on principle, refused to say the pledge anymore.  Even though her teacher didn’t quite seem to understand where she was coming from, her friends, the misfits, thought she was on to something.  They were tired of being made fun of and mistreated, and they were fairly certain that nothing would improve unless they did something about it — so they decided to go about effecting that change by creating a third party in the student council elections.  The book did get a little didactic at times, but I think many tween and teen readers will appreciate Addie’s brand of idealism and the fact that working together actually made a difference in the school.  Fortunately, many schools are making an effort to teach character education and to promote an environment free from hatred

and bullying… but it’s still out there.  Sadly, I’m all too certain there will always be kids who can relate to this story.

Share

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

This is one of the most emotional, heartfelt stories I’ve read in a long time because even though it is fictional, the events and people are based on real  events that took place in history.  The book is set during World War II in Nazi-occupied France. The story focuses on two sisters (Isabelle and Vianne) who had a difficult upbringing and who couldn’t be more different.  How they survive the war and navigate through this time period is compelling.  The book depicts how women were able to help during the war doing such things as hiding Jewish children and leading allied pilots out of occupied areas to safety.  This time period was depicted so realistically, touching on the starvation and sacrifices, holocaust, concentration camps and death, and love that took place during this horrible war. This story will stay with me for a while. It reminds us of the horrors of war.

This quote by the author sums it up perfectly:

Men tell stories.  Women get on with it.  For us it was a shadow war.  There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books.  We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
― Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

Please read it — you won’t regret it!!

 

Share

Leverage by Joshua Cohen

Leverage

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

I read this book because the Upper Hudson Library System has a yearly “tough reads” book discussion during our June Youth Services Advisory Council meeting. We talk about why the book was a tough read, why it’s so important not to censor our collections, and how to get these books into the hands of the tweens and teens who would benefit from reading them.  Sadly, I was unable to attend the book discussion this year, so I don’t know what everyone else thought about this book… but I figured I could at least share my thoughts on this blog.

This story is a sports rivalry like no other; the rivals aren’t even from different schools.  The members of the football team and the gymnastics team keep pranking one another, and the stakes just seem to get higher and higher every time.  It’s pretty clear to the guys on the gymnastics team that the guys on the football team are getting out of control, but they just can’t seem to help themselves.  When something completely terrible happens to Ronnie, no one wants to talk about it.  Even his own teammates try to get him to pretend it never happened.  But life doesn’t work like that.  And, sooner or later, someone is going to have to put a stop to this prank war before it claims another victim.

Share

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Although I enjoyed the Burn for Burn series, it wasn’t what I would typically expect from Jenny Han.  I first fell in love with her writing when I read Shug.  I went on to adore the Summer I Turned Pretty series and frequently recommend it to readers who are looking for an author similar to Sarah Dessen.  Even though Jenny Han’s stories fall on the lighter side of YA, I can’t help but use words like “honest” and “raw” when I describe her characters.  I love the fact that Han’s characters face problems that a majority of tweens and teens can relate to — and the mom/librarian in me especially appreciates her multidimensional female characters.

Lara Jean has fallen in love many times, but that doesn’t exactly mean she has had much dating experience.  Instead of dating those boys, though, she skipped straight from falling in love to letting them go.  And, in order to let them go, she wrote a love letter of sorts.  Whenever she wrote to one of the boys she loved, Lara Jean always wrote honestly and held nothing back (because she knew that the boys would never really read the letters).  She’d planned to simply keep all of the letters in the hat box her mom gave her to hold her special and/or secret items.  The fact that she chose to include the name and address of each boy on the front of the envelope, nevertheless, proved to be rather unfortunate.  After the hat box mysteriously disappeared from her closet and the letters were all “accidentally” mailed out, Lara Jean ended up agreeing to be in a fake relationship to avoid her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh — to whom she had written one of the most recent letters . But how is a girl supposed to know whether her fake boyfriend is actually flirting or just putting on a good show?  And what should she do if she starts to think she might have feelings for him?  The book ended a little too abruptly for my liking, so it’s a good thing there is a sequel — P.S. I Still Love You — that came out at the end of May. 😉

Share

You by Caroline Kepnes

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

You is a crazy fun read.  We have Joe, who is obsessed with Beck.  Joe will do anything to be with Beck, even kill.

The book is told in the second person, which took a bit of getting used to, but really worked for telling the story.  Joe is absolutely crazy, a stalker in the 21st century, finding out everything about Beck by hacking into her email, reading her twitter feed and her Facebook posts.  Beck, the object of Joe’s obsession is a self-centered post-grad living in NYC.  It’s hard to say more without spoiling the plot.

I recommend this if you’re looking for a fun read about a crazy guy who will do anything for “love.”

Share

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

New Year’s Eve in London finds a desperate woman climbing the stairs of a tall building with the intention of throwing herself off.  Then, she finds three other people up there with the same intention.

Thus begins this quirky, dark -humored novel by British author Nick Hornby.  The four people talk themselves down, go for coffee, then decide to form a support society.  Each is completely different from the other – a disgraced TV personality, a punk young woman, a failed (American) rocker, and a middle-aged woman with a terribly disabled child.

It concludes relatively happily, as the four encourage one another to accept and conquer the challenges they each face.

 

 

Share

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

The summer I wasn't me

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Despite the fact that the American Psychiatric Association put forth a resolution in 2009 stating that “there is insufficient evidence that sexual orientation change efforts work,” there are still numerous facilities and therapists that claim they can “cure” homosexuality.  It breaks my heart and makes me angry, in equal measure, when I hear about teens being sent off to so-called conversion therapy camps.  To put it plainly, I find the notion that GLBTQ people can/need to be “fixed” is simply horrifying.  I recognize that some people’s religious views are the reason they don’t condone homosexuality, but I reject the implication that one’s religious beliefs can or should be forced upon anyone else.  Though some some places [California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington D.C.] have passed laws banning conversion therapy for minors, I am appalled that so many states haven’t stepped up.  Hopefully, books like The Summer I Wasn’t Me and The Miseducation of Cameron Post can help to open people’s eyes and to bring about further change.

Lexi knew that she was a lesbian since she was in elementary school. And she also knew, for just as long, that she would prefer to hide this fact because the rest of her South Carolina community was adamantly against homosexuality.  She almost told her father when she visited him on his death bed, but she was terrified that her final memory of him would be of his disapproval and disappointment.  After his death, Lexi’s mom fell into a deep depression.  Though Lexi did what she could to try and make things easy for her mom, nothing seemed to work.  So, one day, when Lexi accidentally left out a journal in which she had drawn pictures of a girl she liked, her mom completely freaked.  The only thing that seemed to make her mom happy was the possibility that Lexi could be “cured” at a special camp called New Horizons.  And even though Lexi wasn’t sure it would work, she was willing to do whatever it took to make her mom happy again. :-(

Share